Hi everyone,

I started this blog since I took the GRE last year and realized that the main area I had work on was the analytical writing bit. Considering I wrote every essay in the pool of topics, I think I might have overdone it a bit🙂 But since I had all of this written down, I thought it would be a waste to just throw it away and so thought I would share it with whoever might be interested.

Please note that I do not think all of these are the best written essays. Am sure you can do better than me in most of these. I just intend them to be directional in nature, just to feed in some ideas in the topics you are getting stuck on. You would also note that there are several essays that are very similar in how they are worded and specially the start in most is very similar. There are two reasons for this 1) I could not think of a unique start to each of these essays 2) In GRE only ONE of these essays would come, so it doesn’t matter how repetitive it might sound on this blog.

I would love to hear from you guys. I saw on the dashboards that there have been some views to the essays, do let me know your point of view or if you have any questions – I would try my best to answer them.

And lastly I would strongly suggest all of you try your hand at writing essays – remember there is no ‘right’ point of view and unless you write a few, you would not know the areas that you have to improve on. For me it was all of it – from the content, to the structure, language and a logical conclusion. This section is becoming increasingly important in admissions and you can substantially increase your score by practicing a little.

All the best to everyone writing the GRE this year. I am sure you will do great.

Popularity and comprehension by masses cannot be yardsticks to ascertain the value of a work of art and this is most commonly evidenced by the posthumous success of artists from motley fields. In the words of Oscar Wilde, definition of art should follow the work; the work should not adapt itself to the definition. Creating boundaries and frameworks for art especially based on popular perception would rob art of its essential purpose i.e. to stimulate the senses, and art would merely be relegated to a career that people are propelled towards because of mercenary gain.

Art is an abstract concept, one with no conception of ideal. The value of a piece of art cannot be cloistered in the walls of popular psyche or perception. Artists from Van Gogh to Picasso, literary progenies like Franz Kafka and Jane Austen, music maestros like Bach and Ray Charles had extremely varied styles and were only celebrated for their genius posthumously. Critics and laity alike failed to recognize the merit of their works during their lifetime. However, that did not propel these prodigies to alter their work based on temporal considerations of popular perceptions of their time. Art to truly have merit must be timeless and eternal and be full of vitality connecting with and motivating people.

Art is as much boundary-less as eternal. Artistic masterpieces connect with people across the barriers of language, culture, expertise and even physical handicaps. Music of wizards like Mozart and Bach is often used in therapies of alternate healing for mentally handicapped people. These people might not be able to understand the technical nuances that make this music nothing short of brilliant, but the combined effect of tempo, rhythm, sound is what connects with them and has an ameliorative effect. Fusion of different types of music is testimony that language barriers do not immure true art either. Sufi music is extremely popular across the world and is enjoyed equally by people from myriad ethnicities who in all likelihood cannot understand or even relate to the lyrics.

While art for art’s sake is a prevailing liberal modernism outlook, a new view of the relevance of art is as an instrument to effect social change. This outlook necessitates that art be understood by a majority. The work of art would only be as powerful as the number of people it can inspire and motivate, obscurest and incomprehensible art would be little more than megalomaniacal indulgence by the artist. With art having the capability to transcend boundaries, cultures and religionsit can be a powerful tool to actuate people towards humanitarian ends, bringing people together in an enriching exchange of ideas and thoughts. This would only be possible when art is accessible – physically and cognitively to a majority.

In conclusion, the definition of what makes a piece of work truly art changes over time and neither expert nor popular acclaim can be the litmus test to adjudicate the merit. Art for its own sake serves to stimulate senses of the people and the creative urges of the artist and does not necessitate popular acceptance, but art as a catalyst for change requiresthat must be comprehendible by the populace.

It was during research for the treatment of gastric ulcers that the scientist accidentally forgot to wash his hands and later discovered a sweet tasting powder that was to be the saccharine. Adventitious instances abound in the scientific and creative process and often the environments are made conducive for such aberrations to present themselves. Indeed some discoveries today might have been very different had these fortuitous events not presented themselves. At the same time it would not be correct to say that chances of happenstance discoveries increases only when answers to another question are being sought.

The importance of the scientific process and design of the research experiment cannot be undermined and must be carefully controlled. There are however incidents which cannot be controlled and in fact have lead to improvised results beyond that derived through a meticulous process. It was thanks largely in part of mercury spilling accidentally and without the knowledge of the inventor, that the photographic process was enriched. Other examples of discoveries that were not predicted in any manner by the researcher include penicillin, the microwave and cornflakes.

While several important innovations have been purely coincidental, as Louis Pasteur said, “chance favors the prepared mind”, accidental happenings also require a qualified person to recognize their importance. In absence of this, many favorable events would merely be rejected as vagaries that need to be ignored or avoided. With increased mechanization and automation, we run the risk of overlooking these incidents and experimenting for improved outcomes. Newton’s coming across the falling apple and his curiosity about the principle, lead to an understanding of gravity. Many people would have seen things drop before him but it was his scientific bent of mind that lead him to question the occurrence.

The field of arts is an area where the importance of accidents is even more pivotal. Artists do not usually start with a defined outcome in mind and often depend on external and internal vicissitudes to evolve their work. By not having a goal in mind and by remaining open to experimentation, they view the process as a means to learn and improve their art. Some literary masterpieces like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas were never intended to be books in the first place, but chance lead to its becoming one of the defining writings of its time. Shakespeare never published any of his plays during his lifetime for fear of losing out audience, he was merely seeking a living when he wrote out plays that were to outlive him for centuries to come.

In conclusion, the process of accidental discoveries and creations is an important one, the impact of which cannot be fully predicted but the merit of which cannot be denounced.

“I never teach my pupils; I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn” These lines by Albert Einstein succinctly capture my views on the process of learning and the role of pedagogues in education. Albert Einstein himself went to school only briefly and thereafter was home schooled and is renowned the world over as a genius par excellence. Another exemplary leader who never went to school was Abraham Lincoln who is widely believed to be the greatest American president in history. Both these men are testimonies to the fact that learning is inherently an innate quality that blossoms with the right stimulus.

Education is not an end in itself; the purpose of education is to prepare students for the life long process of learning so that they can contribute to the development of self, societies and nations. However, the prevailing view of learning in educational institutes worldwide is that students are disinclined to learn which necessitates the fact that they need to be coerced into learning. Alternate views of education are represented in schools like Sudbury schools where students are free to determine their own methodologies of how to learn and the environment is made conducive to aid them in this process – interaction with teachers, students both younger and older and their communities, make their education more holistic and sparks in them a desire to accumulate knowledge. As research shows, students from these schools are more inclined to further their education and enroll in higher institutes of learning as compared to their peers from traditional teacher oriented schools.

It is imperative to be conversant with the fact that teachers do not reserve the exclusive right as the “possessors” of knowledge. Learning arises from interaction with various elements – from the students’ experience and beliefs, from their interaction with fellow students, from extra curricular activities they undertake and from their associations with their community. It is in fact a continuum and for this process to be systemized it is crucial that students are able to amalgamate these experiences and the school acts as a social entity. This enriching and diverse process cannot be encapsulated within any curriculum nor can it be restricted as the prerogative or responsibility of a few. Students themselves need to see the value of learning and their potential as learners, it must impel them form within.

Institutions of learning have the same responsibility and role to play as Anne Sullivan played in the development of Helen Keller. Instructors must act as facilitators and explorers in the process, both imparting knowledge and be willing to learn themselves. The must foster the art of questioning and inquiry and actuate their pupils to seek answers independently. All too often questioning by students is browbeaten and restricted within the confines of the curriculum. This attitude impedes and discourages the students to seek solutions and assay problems from different perspectives. However the purpose of schooling is not to create uniform molds out of students, the pedagogues have the responsibility to bring out an enhance the ability of each student, to encourage those who already have an inquisitive mind and to support those who are getting immured in any manner.

To sum up, teaching is not the exclusive domain of the teacher or learning the sole responsibility of the student. Learning and teaching is a continuous journey that the teacher and the student embark upon together and where each experience is viewed as a means to enrich themselves and the other.

The author contends that scientists should focus their research and energies only on aspects that have high relevance. The reasoning of the author is likely based on two points 1) research that does not benefit a large number of people would be wasteful as the effort expended could have been utilized to solve a bigger problem, and 2) the scientist himself stands the greatest chance of fame if his inventions have made a significant impact. While both the aspects on which the author basis his opinion are well intentioned, problems that besiege a smaller section of the population cannot be deemed to be less critical. Two other aspects the argument overlooks are that of problems remaining stagnant and that impact of fortuitous discoveries.

An ideal example to assess the merit of the author’s proposal would be the field of medical research. While there are problems that plague a large number of people such as anxiety and stress related ailments, a majority of health concerns are limited to a small section of the population. These range from mental health imbalances like schizophrenia to Down’s Syndrome and stress related ailments; a majority of health concerns are limited to a small section of the population. These concerns though suffered by a few have a largely debilitating effect on the individual affecting their cognitive, sensory and motor functions. Limiting research, then, on the premise that they are not mass concerns would be akin to marginalizing those suffering from these ailments. Both the patient and their families would have nothing to turn to, and would be left at the mercy of their fate, waiting for death to relieve them of their suffering.

Another aspect to consider is that health concerns are manifestations of our lifestyle. The problems deluging us today were not the same problems suffered by our ancestors and the concerns that the future generations are likely to phase cannot also be enlisted today. A large number of predilections we suffer today have their genesis in increasing pollution brought about by industrialization and pursuit of capitalism. Respiratory problems, lung infections, hearing impediments are all outcomes of increasing air and noise pollution. It is a proven fact that the incidence of these diseases is higher today than it was a few decades back. Small pox, on the other hand, was an anathema a large number of our predecessors were immured with but which today has been eliminated. Containing research on any concern because it is not widespread today would be adopting a very myopic and short term view.

The third aspect that the author fails to take into consideration is that the outcome and benefit derived from a breakthrough in a field cannot always be pre ascertained. The radio for instance, was initially meant to be restricted for the exclusive use of the US Navy. Today however, the radio is the most popular media for the entertainment and information of denizens residing in remote villages and third world countries. Another example is that of the commercial dye; the impact of which was fully realized only when the fashion industry started using the dye. It threw open doors for a large number of people to pursue the field of chemistry as a commercially viable career option. Fortuitous discoveries, which were never intended to be, also fall out of the scope of the authors view. Penicillin for instance would likely not have been discovered had Sir Alexander Fleming concerned himself only with solving the larger problems.

In closing it has been highlighted that there are several implications that need to be considered before the debate of the scope of research is settled. In most cases any restriction would be deleterious and the final decision must be based on evaluation of the different perspectives mentioned above.

The debate raised is essentially one of harmony vs. pursuit of the ideal and I would contend that the debate is far too complex for a single answer to hold true in all situations. Assaying the scenario and debating what represents the larger good would best settle the dichotomy. The government in all cases must work FOR people, not necessarily AS PER the people. 

In the democratic form of government, government officials are voted by the electorate and represent the will of the people. This format has its genesis in inherent trust by the denizens that their elected representatives would carry out their will and work in their interests. To that extent, it is an authorization and approval given to the government officials to exercise their judgment on the behalf of the people. There are atleast two scenarios where it would be necessitated that the elected representatives pursue the ideal – 1) when the decision pits one sections of the population against another and 2) when the decision has long term implications.

What is good for one section of the population might not necessarily be beneficial for the other. What constitutes the will of the people is an extremely divergent and colossal array of needs and requirements. In such cases it is usually the will of the majority or the more powerful section that is taken into consideration. However, in such cases it would be up to a strong leader to determine what is in the larger interest of the nation and base their decision solely on that. Abraham Lincoln, considered one of the greatest US Presidents, had no compulsion to oppose slavery. He faced stiff resistence from his white compatriots and general population. Nevertheless he continued the fight on humanitarian grounds and helped ameliorate the conditions of millions of colored people who were suffering extreme humiliation and debasement.

In many cases, common citizens don’t have a full view of the present situations and they are not aware of / or don’t take into account many other relevant aspects and thus they express a will that is only based on their immediate interests. For instance the population might be inclined that the government divest in developing industry which would propel employment, but it is in the long term interest of the nation that the money instead be allocated to environmental causes. Seeking consensus would be beneficial in the short run, but work to the detriment on the nation in the long run.

However in certain situations, it is often necessary to make compromises in order for the momentum to continue. A my-way-or-the-highway approach works little and signifies a closure of all communication, which is essential to resolve problems. The Great Compromise made on the debate of representation from various states in the US congress highlights one such instance. The flexibility shown was essential to keep all the states happy and ensure that the debate was settled quickly instead of drawing into a long debate.

In summary, there are merits to both sides of the argument. The final decision should be taken after careful analysis of the implications and which route presents the greatest benefit. This is the true test of an effective leader. 

The debate raised is essentially one of harmony vs. pursuit of the ideal and I would contend that the debate is far too complex for a single answer to hold true in all situations. Assaying the scenario and debating what represents the larger good would best settle the dichotomy. The government in all cases must work FOR people, not necessarily AS PER the people.

In the democratic form of government, government officials are voted by the electorate and represent the will of the people. This format has its genesis in inherent trust by the denizens that their elected representatives would carry out their will and work in their interests. To that extent, it is an authorization and approval given to the government officials to exercise their judgment on the behalf of the people. There are atleast two scenarios where it would be necessitated that the elected representatives pursue the ideal – 1) when the decision pits one sections of the population against another and 2) when the decision has long term implications.

What is good for one section of the population might not necessarily be beneficial for the other. What constitutes the will of the people is an extremely divergent and colossal array of needs and requirements. In such cases it is usually the will of the majority or the more powerful section that is taken into consideration. However, in such cases it would be up to a strong leader to determine what is in the larger interest of the nation and base their decision solely on that. Abraham Lincoln, considered one of the greatest US Presidents, had no compulsion to oppose slavery. He faced stiff resistence from his white compatriots and general population. Nevertheless he continued the fight on humanitarian grounds and helped ameliorate the conditions of millions of colored people who were suffering extreme humiliation and debasement.

In many cases, common citizens don’t have a full view of the present situations and they are not aware of / or don’t take into account many other relevant aspects and thus they express a will that is only based on their immediate interests. For instance the population might be inclined that the government divest in developing industry which would propel employment, but it is in the long term interest of the nation that the money instead be allocated to environmental causes. Seeking consensus would be beneficial in the short run, but work to the detriment on the nation in the long run.

However in certain situations, it is often necessary to make compromises in order for the momentum to continue. A my-way-or-the-highway approach works little and signifies a closure of all communication, which is essential to resolve problems. The Great Compromise made on the debate of representation from various states in the US congress highlights one such instance. The flexibility shown was essential to keep all the states happy and ensure that the debate was settled quickly instead of drawing into a long debate.

In summary, there are merits to both sides of the argument. The final decision should be taken after careful analysis of the implications and which route presents the greatest benefit. This is the true test of an effective leader.

Despite being aware of the harmful consequences of blithe actions, we undertake several risky behaviors. Hedonistic pleasures like smoking, binge drinking, driving with a seatbelt have consequences few would be unaware of. This knowledge though does not contain us as we feel these are relatively small risks and the temporal pleasures we derive from them far outweigh the chances of anything potentially harmful happening to us. Research shows that there is a biological reason for such egregious behavior and dopamine in our brains induces us to be involved in actions for little or sometimes no reward at all.

In other cases, the import of our actions are not completely portent. Should we then stop ourselves from experimenting? Columbus embarked on the journey thinking he was headed towards Asia but he used the peregrination as an exploration and wound up reaching America. Volkswagen’s Beatle revolutionized the creative industry and managed to move advertising from a factual form of communication to sensory advertising harbringing a new creative revolution. The marketers at VW could not have predicted this outcome and in all likelihood would have been advised against their judgment.

As kids we undertook several endeavors such as touching hot objects or approaching a total stranger, which were potentially harmful. Not knowing the consequences actuated us to a large degree in indulging in these acts. As we grew older our appetitive for risk got substantially contained because we can now potentially consider the implications of our actions. However this knowledge has not always merited us. The consequences of this are most apparent in our career decisions and several students prefer to take the path of least resistance, as it is the safest choice to make. Few mavericks are willing to follow their heart to careers that would fully utilize their potential and make them happy. Cognizance of the outcome and the risk involved in such cases is actually detrimental for us.

In closing, the financial turmoil that the world is facing today has led risk to be synonymous with imprudence. Risk however is imperative and beneficial, and the dynamism of the environment does not always make it possible for us to be aware of consequences of all our actions. The challenge then is to continuously balance opportunity and peril and thereafter ascertain the best course of action.